Dr. Benjamin Rush

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“All will end well.” (The Signers, page 43) This was Dr. Benjamin Rush’s favorite saying which summed up his life of vast accomplishments, as evidenced in a letter to Thomas Jefferson from John Adams that he knew “of no Character living or dead, who has done more real good in America” (Benjamin Rush, Patriot and Physician, page ix). He was a great doctor at the time he lived and worked diligently to heal countless people. However, his methods of curing people were dangerous and he probably hurt more than he actually helped. Despite being a strong believer in the barbaric practices of bloodletting and purging as a cure for yellow fever, Benjamin Rush was ahead of his time in the tremendous contributions he made to the field of medicine and in the area of social reform. Dr. Benjamin Rush had a lifelong medical career and made enormous contributions to the field of medicine in the United States. As a boy, he entered Princeton when he was thirteen and he graduated the next year, at the age of fourteen. To further his study of medicine, he attended Edinburgh in England. Upon returning to the United States, he started to treat the poor, often for free. With a sincere desire to assist the underprivileged, he founded the first Dispensary for the Poor in America. He promoted preventative medicine like vaccination against smallpox and he knew poor dental health could cause illness. He joined the staff of the Pennsylvania Hospital in 1783 and he reformed the care of mental patients, believing all people should be treated with respect and dignity. He published the first psychiatry textbook in America and is known as the Father of American Psychiatry. In 1789, he became a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught over 3,000 students. He worked unflaggingly during the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia, seeing up to 120 patients a day. Although he treated patients using methods questioned by other physicians, which...
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